Starting right guard Kyle Long did not travel with his Bears teammates for their trip out east to play the Giants.
Long’s absence was one of the things GM Ryan Pace weighed in on during a pre-game interview, and his perspective on the situation spoke volumes about where his head coach stands on training camp fights:
Bears GM Ryan Pace calls the decision to keep Kyle Long back in Chicago an "internal matter" in a pregame interview w/@LouCanellis. Fairly obvious that Long did not make the trip because of what happened during Wednesday night's scrimmage at Halas Hall.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) August 16, 2019
The matter might have been handled internally, but the message came across loud and clear to anyone and everyone paying attention to Bears football. Shenanigans that go over the line will be dealt with seriously. Head Coach Matt Nagy set boundaries and going outside the lines will come with real consequences. Because even though training camp fights happen, even Nagy described Long’s transgressions as being “at a different level.”
What stands out about this disciplinary action is that receiver Javon Wims and cornerback Prince Amukamara had a training camp scuffle earlier in the week and were not severely punished. Neither player was removed from practice or disciplined as harshly as Long, which suggests that Long’s transgressions were far more serious than what happened between the cornerback and receiver. If that is the case, then Nagy is smart to nip this in the bud before it grew into something more.
Suspending a team leader (even for a preseason game) sends a message to the locker room that discipline is real. And that whether you’re an established veteran with three Pro Bowls under your belt like Long or the 90th man on the preseason roster, your actions have consequences. A precedent has been set and a line has been drawn. Cross it at your own risk, just be prepared to deal with the repercussions when they come your way.